Court says Irish minister can pursue Google to expose crypto ad scams

Ireland’s second most senior politician received permission on Thursday to serve Google a notice demanding it reveal who paid for scam crypto ads bearing his likeness.

As reported by RTE, lawyers representing Tánaiste Mícheál Martin, a minister of the Fianna Fáil party, were permitted by the High Court to serve Google Ireland and Google LLC the notice. 

The notice allows Martin to take Google to court and challenge it to give up the identities of those publishing crypto ad scams using his likeness. Specifically, he wants to know from where the ads originated and the details of the accounts funding them.  

The ads displayed a made-up newspaper article with fake quotes from Martin claiming he was backing an automatic crypto trading program that could “transform anyone into a millionaire within three to four months.”

They also claimed that Martin received threats from large corporations after the crypto software made him “tens of thousands” in euros every day. The Fianna Fáil party complained to Google about the ads and it removed them, citing “egregious policy violations.”

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Martin’s lawyers told the courts that he is concerned the ads are damaging his reputation. Lawyers added that the proliferation of misinformation regarding politicians has the potential to erode trust in the political system.  

Martin claims that there’s a strong public interest in identifying the scammers and holding them legally accountable. In addition, he claims that exposing them will damage their ability to remain anonymous and will deter future scammers. 

His lawyers claim the ads were submitted and approved by Google Ads. Because of this, they say that Google had a clear — albeit unintentional — role to play in running the ads. The next court hearing is scheduled for next week.

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